The Top 12 Sneaky Scams Preying on Seniors

According to news, in 2023, around $28.3 billion was lost to elder fraud scams. In America, people over 60 are most prone to such scams, and the number only increases every year. Due to their trusting nature and lack of knowledge about the latest technology, money scams happen more often among older citizens. Unfortunately, they make up the biggest part of money laundering victims.

Let us look at the most common types of scams that older adults fall prey to.

The Grandparent Scam

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In this scam, the caller will identify them as the grandkids and ask for monetary help. They will make up an emergency like an accident or arrest and ask the grandparents to help. Most grandparents give in to such fake stories and immediately send the money without asking much. The scammers might also try to stop them from talking to other family members. They would do this to prevent conforming to the truth. Hence, this is a big giveaway to help you spot them.

Elder Financial Abuse

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This can involve family, friends, or caregivers stealing or using a senior’s finances. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most common types of scams. Almost $2.9 billion was lost through this scam alone. The scammer might pressure the person to sign documents or take control of their bank accounts. Hence, be cautious about giving control of your finances to others.

Government Imposter Scam

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This scam is also very popular in the US. In it, the scammer contacts older people claiming to be representatives of well-known government agencies, such as Medicare, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), or the Social Security Administration (SSA). They threaten an arrest or fine if you don’t pay them immediately.

False Investment Scam

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Most senior citizens don’t have a stable source of income, so they fall prey to these investment scams. They believe that investment schemes are good options to increase their limited wealth. However, little do they know that the false investments are designed to steal their money. Usually, older adults will receive a call from someone offering a guaranteed high-return investment. Often, it’s in something they don’t understand. Illegitimate bonds and deposits, charitable gift annuities, or prime bank schemes are the common ones.

Tech Support Scam

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Older people will receive a random call from a tech support person from a reputed company. It is usually some well-known MNCs like Apple or Microsoft. The caller will claim that their computer or device is at risk of virus infection. The caller will then lure the older person into paying for software they don’t need or, even worse, granting them remote access to their device. They will then use this access to steal all their data and money.

Robocalls and Phishing Messages

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Imagine your phone rings; some automated voice claims your car warranty expires soon. That’s a robocall. For the elderly, who know very little about technology, this can seem legit and concerning.

Phishing messages can also be sent through emails or texts that look legitimate. Older people might think they’re from a bank, credit card company, or even a friend. They aim to trick older adults into clicking a link or giving up personal information. This could include information like DOB, passwords, or account numbers.

Sweepstakes and Elder Lottery Scams

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This is one of the oldest scamming techniques. The person gets a call or message congratulating them on winning a hefty money prize. However, you will be required to send some money for “processing fees” first. Most senior citizens end up believing in them and paying those upfront fees for nothing.

Romance Scams

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Loneliness is a common downside of old age. In that case, online dating can be a wonderful way to meet someone, but scammers prey on emotions, too. In 2022, nearly 70,000 people reported a romance scam that totaled a loss of almost $1.3 billion. They create fake profiles, showering the person with affection and promises. Soon enough, they start asking for money. Their common excuses will be an emergency or investment opportunity. Both male and female senior citizens get scammed through this technique.

Funeral Scams

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This is the worst way of scamming one could ever think of. The con artist first finds out about deceased people and tracks them thoroughly. They will go through the extent of raiding obituaries. The scammer will then attend the funerals and claim that the deceased has an outstanding debt. They usually target elderly spouses who are grieving and not in a state of rational thinking.

Reverse Mortgage Scams

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As people approach old age, they build assets through properties like houses. A reverse mortgage is a way for people above 62 to put those assets to use and earn a steady income. But scammers would take advantage of this. They’ll contact older people, claiming they can help with the process.

In most cases, they will end up stealing their properties or money. These scammers will use high-pressure sales tactics, ask for power of attorney, or lure them to get a reverse mortgage to pay for costly repairs.

Online Shopping Scams

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Senior citizens are prone to online shopping scams as the concept is still difficult for them. They often shop from fishy websites and lose their money on garbage. They will either receive wrong or duplicate products or nothing at all. They are more likely not to know how to return them. Thus, their money goes to waste. If they use credit cards, scam websites might also hack into their personal details and seal all their savings.

Charity Scams

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As we get older, our inclination towards charity increases. Therefore, scammers target older adults who want to help other people. These con artists will pretend to have a legitimate charity and ask for donations. If it is a small-scale fraud, they will only steal the donation. However, if it is something large-scale, they will get a hold of financial information and rob them completely.

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